Dear Brown Community Members,
A few important notes and reminders:
-- As is the case this week in the State of Rhode Island, the numbers of reported positive COVID-19 test results from students are higher again this week than last week. We are encouraged that students are continuing to test and self-isolate when they receive a positive test result -- that is critically important public health behavior to protect individuals and the community. While we are paying close attention to the numbers, as we have communicated previously, reported test results are not the only or primary indicator of public health conditions on campus. Without minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on individuals, we are not seeing indications of widespread transmission, clusters or outbreak, or instances of severe illness or hospitalization. Furthermore, we do not have any indication that increased restrictions, such as returning to mandatory indoor masking, are necessary or would have much impact on the level of positivity we are experiencing.
-- While we are not making any changes with regard to campus activity status, we do want to remind all members of the community that anyone can choose to wear a mask at any time. Mask wearing continues to be mandatory in classes where the instructor requires students to wear masks and meetings where the host requires attendees to wear masks (for example, a staff member meeting with a student in their office may require the student to wear a mask during the meeting).
-- We are aware that mask wearing requirements have changed nationwide in recent days on public transportation and airlines. While we are monitoring the guidance in this area carefully, at this time mask wearing remains required on Brown University Shuttles. If and when that changes, we will notify the community.
-- We encourage all members of the community to continue to monitor and pay attention to the onset and development of symptoms, and to use rapid antigen tests available at the test pick-up sites as needed.
-- We announced yesterday that the requirement that all employees and students remain up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations will remain in place into the 2022-23 academic year:
In regard to test results reported to the University over the last week: From Thursday, April 14, through Wednesday, April 20, 182 students reported positive test results (up 41 from a corrected total of 141 last week). Approximately 130 students are currently in isolation in on-campus or designated isolation housing off-campus (note that the number of students who report positive tests results and the number in isolation will not be the same each week, as students may isolate in their off-campus apartments or at home if they live nearby, and the isolation numbers fluctuate as students begin and end their respective isolation periods). In the same timeframe, 28 employees reported testing positive (down 9 from last week). We also monitor employee absences due to COVID-19 — which can be for a range of reasons, including care of a child or family member or quarantine due to a known exposure — and the number of such absences for the most recent full work week was 6. It is important to note that these numbers represent employee absences reported to University Human Resources and do not necessarily reflect all of the disruptions currently impacting faculty and staff due to K-12 school closures and remote learning, care for a family member, or other challenges to daily routines.
Through Wednesday, April 20, we have distributed 52,033 test kits. Operating hours for the test kit pick-up sites can be found on the testing page of the Healthy Brown website:
If you are visiting the test pick-up sites for additional tests and you have recently taken a pack of ten (10) KN95 masks, please leave the masks for others. Each bag of masks is sufficient for most people for about a month.
As previously communicated, rapid antigen tests are becoming increasingly available from the federal government supply as well. Insurance companies are now reimbursing the costs of tests, and tests will be available in the coming weeks at pharmacies and other locations with no out-of-pocket expense. Tests can also be ordered directly at https://www.covidtests.gov/ (we understand this option is not available for direct mailing to students in residence halls -- we suggest having tests delivered to a family member or friend who can send them to you at Brown and/or taking advantage of the insurance reimbursement option referenced below). We encourage all members of the community to take advantage of these resources. Information for employees regarding options through participating insurance carriers can be found on the University Human Resources benefits page:
And information for students participating in the student health insurance plan can be found on the United Healthcare Student Resources website (see the March 24, 2022, updated titled “COVID-19 Home Test Member Reimbursement):
Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. For questions or support regarding the testing program, students can contact the student testing support team (firstname.lastname@example.org), and faculty and staff can contact the employee testing support team (email@example.com).
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy